Christmas is a week from today and it’s a balmy 52 degrees F and sunny in the morning. The trees outside my window are clinging stubbornly to their dead brown leaves, fighting against – or confused about—when to shed them and renew. That our world is getting warmer each year because of our actions seems hard to dispute, yet I’m always surprised there are people who do.
I am streaming Ravi Shankar and Dave Brubeck as I make coffee, listening to music from men who passed away in the last few weeks, their music a reminder of how art can bridge divides and advocate for justice and still create spaces for innovation. This informs the work I do. Most days it feels like a privilege. Some days I realize how much farther we have to go-- like today, four days after children and adults were gunned down in a school, the collective ache of that sitting close, along with the question of “how do we keep letting this happen?” And I am still surprised by people who defend guns in the face of this.
What I really want to listen to today is Christmas music—like Dean Martin singing “Oh the weather outside is frightful…” The holidays have crept up on me, between the warmth, the spate of recent violence, and my family’s decision not to give exchange gifts this year. I miss the ritual of shopping at the Union Square holiday craft fair, walking down Madison Avenue and stopping for hot chocolate near the star that hangs above 57th/5th , holding packages and gift lists. And I miss the surprise of unwrapping gifts, from shiny red tricycles to fuzzy sweaters to board games, received as a child, given as an adult, and it occurs to me as I walk through Madison Square Park in the evening that pleasant surprises are so common in childhood and such a luxury as we become adults.
I look up then and see the park strewn with holiday lights, diners eating outside at Shake Shack, and a sign presenting “Happy Holidays” upside down. I don’t know if it’s whimsical, ironic, angry, or simply perspective-shifting. But it makes me smile.
About the author: Lina works as a strategist at the intersection of social innoveation, creative media, and activism. She can often be found at @lksriv